-- Only the Philadelphia Flyers
could kick off the season with a ceremonial slash.
But that's what Flyers coach Peter Laviolette
, GM Paul Holmgren
, President Peter Luukko and a few other dignitaries did to open training camp Friday at Flyers Skate Zone, using hockey sticks to cut a black and orange ribbon in front of a crowd of about 200.
The day also was designed to introduce the club's new road jersey, which is identical to the one the Flyers wore at last season's Winter Classic.
"The reason we made the move was the overwhelming response to it from the fans when we wore it for the Winter Classic," Flyers Senior Vice President of Business Operations Shawn Tilger told NHL.com. "Everyone loved it. It was more, 'Why not listen to the fans'"
The jersey is white with an orange swirl down each sleeve and an orange band around the waist. On the back, the white letters are laid on a black nameplate and the numbers on the back are orange with a black outline. The only thing missing from Jan. 1 in Boston is the Winter Classic patch.
Flyers captain Mike Richards
was on hand to model the jersey, marking the first time he's appeared publicly since the end of the Stanley Cup Final.
"It's nice to get back into the swing of things," Richards said. "Things like this means you're ramping up toward the season. It's nice to be back."
He isn't the only one excited to get back on the ice.
"It's a great time of year," Luukko said. "It's the beginning of the season, and there's nothing better than training camp, because training camp is hope. At this point Peter (Laviolette) is happy because we're undefeated. We're all excited. There's some new players and the ice smells great. It's that time, time for hockey. Summer's over and it's hockey time."
The Flyers will hold their first team meeting Friday night, and their first practice at 9:30 a.m. Saturday. Their first preseason game will be Sept. 21 against the New Jersey Devils
The camp will be Laviolette's first as coach of the Flyers. He replaced John Stevens
on Dec. 4, 2009, and after the team plummeted to 14th in the Eastern Conference, he guided them up the standings and to a memorable last-day shootout win to get into the playoffs, and then all the way to Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final.
"What training camp affords you is the luxury to really put things in place, to work on it, to try and get the conditioning and the pace of the game where you want it," Laviolette said. "Try to get the systems you want to play in place where everybody understands it and they know exactly what they're doing on the ice and playing it at a pace that's extremely fast. Training camp allows that. When you get dropped in midseason, you lose that luxury."
He'll be teaching those systems to a a group that includes a few new faces. Defenseman Andrej Meszaros
, Sean O'Donnell
and Matt Walker
came over in the offseason, as did forwards Jody Shelley
and Nikolai Zherdev
. Veteran forward Bill Guerin
is in camp on a tryout.
"There's some new faces," Richards said. "With the salary cap there's going to be new faces every year. You're not going to be able to keep the same exact team, which is unfortunate. I don't think we made very many changes, which is good. The changes we did make, myself anyway, I'm excited for them, excited for the defense corps we have. Excited to keep the goaltending we have (Michael Leighton
and Brian Boucher
), because they both played extremely well in the situations we put them in and those situations weren't always easy. I'm encouraged by what Paul has done in the offseason and I'm looking forward to getting started."
Contact Adam Kimelman at email@example.com